Two documents from one source

Subject: Two documents from one source
From: Tim Altom <taltom -at- IQUEST -dot- NET>
Date: Sat, 13 Jan 1996 20:57:00 EST


>Rick Lippincott replied to a previous post:
>>
>>We found that it simply wasn't possible to produce one manual that met both
>>needs, for the following reasons:
>>
>>1) The students need to know certain aspects of the equipment because they
>> are seeing it for the first time. This information isn't really relevant
>> to an operator who has even minimal experience.
>>
>>2) The instructors need to present some highly technical information (such
>> as schematics) that are not used by the routine operator.
>>
>>3) The operating manual has complex and detailed procedures that would
>> overwhelm the novice student.
>>
>>Another disadvantage is that if the manual has to "serve two masters" you
>>will find that you're forced to revise and update it more often. There are
>>times when procedures change, and even though it may not impact the training
>>school the instructors still get a revised manual. On the other hand, a small
>>hardware change might not have been covered in the maintenance-driven
>>portions, but the instructors may have a valid need to show "all
>configurations"
>>of a system.

>That's a major stumbling block if you're trying to just produce a single
>manual for both purposes. We've had good success with FrameMaker's
>conditional text feature. We make a master document that contains both
>subordinate documents within it, then print out one or the other by turning
>on/off conditional text. It makes maintenance and updating a lot easier and
>cheaper.

>The major stumbling block we've found isn't technological at all, but
>procedural. It takes much more meticulous planning than two manuals, and it
>REQUIRES that all responsibility be vested in a single project manager with
>true management authority. No "coordination" between departments and
>managers. It won't get done that way. The team approach is essential, too,
>so that training and technical writers are working as closely together as
>possible. Put them in the same room, if possible. And make sure there's an
>editor on the project to smooth down seams and take the heat. You'll need a
>strong template and meticulous preplanning. The upfront costs, therefore,
>are much higher than for two manuals that can be merely knocked together.
>But the effort of maintaining two books that drift apart is much, much
>higher than the cost of maintaining one.


>Tim Altom
>Vice President
>Simply Written, Inc.
>Technical Documentation and Training
>Voice 317.899.5882
>Fax 317.899.5987
>WWW: http://www.iquest.net/simply/simplywritten/



Tim Altom
Vice President
Simply Written, Inc.
Technical Documentation and Training
Voice 317.899.5882
Fax 317.899.5987
WWW: http://www.iquest.net/simply/simplywritten/


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